Violation Movie Review
A rape revenge film for the #MeToo era, Violation is a gritty, absorbing thriller that overstays its welcome, if only due to its bleakness. Eschewing the “cliches” of the subgenre, which often deals with a violent rape or gang rape, Violation narrows in a much more common form of sexual assault.
Co-written and co-directed by Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli, Violation is about Miriam (Sims-Fewer), who wakes up to her sister’s husband Dylan (Jesse LaVercombe) having sex with her. She confronts him the next day, where he claims it all was consensual. She’s looking to move on, but between the simmering trauma and his refusal to accept responsibility, moving on is impossible.
Violation feels all too real, and the filmmakers are unsparing. The movie is bloody, disgusting, and uncomfortable, but again Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli take their revenge thriller down a road less traveled. It’s so god-damned grounded I’d call it unflinching, except it’s flinch-inducing as hell. The big scene (no, not that scene) is erotic, awkward, uncomfortable, then viscious, brutal, and even more brutal. You don’t want to watch, but you can’t look away. It’s engrossing cinema, as painful as it is.
The movie is well done from start to finish, in part thanks to Sim-Fewer’s unwavering performance. Beautifully shot, sharply edited, and lean in its delivery, there’s little to fault Violation from a filmmaking perspective.
But at 107 minutes, it feels long. Yes, it’s lean in many ways, but the story doesn’t have enough to sustain its runtime. The big problem is the movie peaks too soon, though the film’s unconventional narrative structure treats the big scene as a surprise, Miriam’s motives at first a mystery. Once things click into place, though, once you really know what’s going on, Violation draws out the rest of the story--really, a singular, premeditated and planned out act--for way too long. As enthralled as I was early on, after a while I literally declared “I get it.” And the movie goes on for 30 more minutes.
Violation is a well-made movie, but its challenging material and extended third act make for a somewhat tedious experience.
This movie was reviewed as part of coverage at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.